THE CASCADE RIVER STATE PARK

Minnesota is the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, but sometimes it seems there are just as many state parks. The Cascade River State Park is popular in summer but perhaps even better in fall. At 20 minutes away from Caribou Highlands, it’s close enough for an easy drive but just far away enough to feel like an adventure.

 

Cascade River State Park – Just north of Caribou Highlands
Cascade River State Park – Just north of Caribou Highlands

There are 18 miles of hiking trails, mostly dry, that offer a great place to see the gorgeous fall colors. You’re settling into a boreal hardwood-conifer forest of aspen, birch, fir, spruce and cedar, so there’s plenty of diversity in the flora. Along the way, you may see moose, wolves, pine martens, or bears, although hopefully not all at once. There are scenic overviews and a long footbridge over the immense Cascade River. The river is one of the biggest around and cuts through ancient volcanic lava flows. You’ll be impressed by the roaring waterfall, too.

There are 5,392 acres
in the park, and the oddly specific website notes that there are 160,393 annual visits—160,394 after you come this year. You can even reserve the park’s enclosed picnic shelter for a group lunch by calling ahead of time. So whether you’re a serious hiker, a nature buff, or just a small child that likes waterfalls, this is a great place to see fall up close and personal.


TRAIL HIGHLIGHTS

Cascade River Lower Loop 0.5 mile loop

Reach the Cascades Overlook and the Cascade Falls for stunning views. Watch as the Cascade River plunges 120 feet through a deep twisting gorge to Lake Superior, forming a spectacular series of cascades for which the river was named.

Lookout Mountain Loop 3.5 mile loop

Grab your hiking boots and get ready for a beautiful hike through birch, spruce, and fir. Travel 600 feet in elevation for breathtaking views of the Cascade River Valley, Lake Superior, and the Sawtooth Mountain Range.


A QUICK STOP

Only have an hour?

  • Discover the Cascades, a series of five small waterfalls on the Cascade River Lower Loop.
  • Explore over a mile of Lake Superior Shoreline on the Lake Superior Shoreline Trail.
  • Relax under a grove of cedars at one of the seven picnic sites along the shoreline. (Be sure to grab a box lunch from Moguls!)